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Microsoft Build 2024 Will Focus on AI – Here’s What We Can Expect From Developer Conference

Last Updated May 22, 2024 10:29 AM
James Morales
Last Updated May 22, 2024 10:29 AM

Key Takeaways

  • Microsoft Build 2024 kicked off on Tuesday, May 21.
  • Artificial Intelligence features prominently at this year’s event.
  • Microsoft has announced new Copilot features, AI devices and Azure services.

Microsoft Build 2024 kicked off on Tuesday and much like at Google’s I/O conference last week, Artificial Intelligence is taking center stage at this year’s event.

From high-level keynote addresses to technical deep dives, the event showcased a company that is laser-focused on integrating AI into every facet of the development experience.

Microsoft and the “Intelligence Revolution”

Although Microsoft has been building its AI business for years, since partnering with OpenAI in 2019, the company has significantly accelerated development.

Noting that “developer conferences are always most exciting when there is these fundamental changes that you can sense in the air,” CEO Satya Nadella’s keynote address emphasized parallels between Microsoft’s pivot to AI and a broader “intelligence revolution.”

To help describe the firm’s AI focus, Nadella outlined a tripartite model based on Copilot, the Copilot development stack and the newly launched “Copilot+PC”.

Of course, organizing Microsoft’s offering into hardware, user-facing and developer-facing services isn’t a new idea. But until this year, the company’s AI focus was mostly directed toward the software side of things.

Copilot+ AI PCs

Although Microsoft launched its first laptops featuring a Copilot button in March, the new Copilot+ PCs represent a more dramatic overhaul of computer design.

Thanks to an all-new system architecture that integrates a Neural Processing Unit (NPU) alongside the traditional CPU and GPU, the new devices  are up to 20x more powerful and up to 100x as efficient for running AI workloads.

The laptops come with a range of Microsoft’s small language models preinstalled and are configured to connect to large language models (LLMs) via Azure Cloud.

Microsoft New AI Developer Tools

For developers, perhaps the most important announcement made at Build 2024 was the launch of the Windows Copilot Runtime, a platform to let Windows developers build AI applications.

“What Win32 was for the graphical user interface, we believe the Windows Copilot Runtime will be for AI,” Nadella said. 

While the new Copliot runtime will give developers unprecedented access to Windows’ small language models, LLMs must be programmed through Azure. 

One of the key takeaways from Build 2024 is the way in which Azure is now presented. Whereas Microsoft’s cloud division was originally focused on traditional storage and computing services, these are being eclipsed by its new role as a foundation model marketplace. 

Microsoft Azure in the AI Age

At this year’s Build event, there isn’t a single session focused on Azure that doesn’t have some kind of AI emphasis.

Workshops exploring how to integrate Copilot into Azure workflows and how to build applications using different cloud-based AI models feature prominently in the event’s program 

Announcements include the launch of new Azure Reference Architectures  that will empower developers to build their own chatbots. Another new feature for Azure customers is AI Search, designed to streamline indexing and development with deep data and various platform integrations.

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